7 Tips for Successfully Managing Ad-Hoc Client Requests

By Chelsea Williams
Senior Copywriter
Feb 19 2024 read

Unexpected demands in business can be overwhelming — but when they’re ad-hoc requests from your clients, they become unique opportunities to strengthen relationships and drive greater profitability.

Instead of letting ad-hoc requests disrupt workflows and frustrate your team, develop a system for intake and resolution. A robust system can help your business remain flexible while staying committed to core client work.

Apply the following seven strategies to keep non-project requests from veering your company off course.

1. Anticipate That Ad-Hoc Requests Will Arise

The best defense is a good offense. Building flexibility into your team’s schedule can help them absorb ad-hoc requests. How this looks will depend on the structure and size of your team.

One way to account for out-of-scope requests is to allow slack time in a typical day or week. Anticipate that your clients will occasionally reach out and require you to divert attention from their other ongoing projects.

Until you can justify a customer support team, find team members you can pull in at a moment’s notice and designate them to handle regular requests. This will keep client satisfaction high and response time low.

Consider building extra time into current deliverables so that if an ad-hoc request comes in, it won’t make you late on other projects. To estimate how much time you need for extensions, start tracking time your team spends on requests now and calculate an average number of hours per week.

Adjusting your expectations can go a long way in making unforeseen requests less aggravating. If you follow the upcoming strategies, you’ll also make them less costly.

2. Use a Request Management or Ticketing System

If you already have established processes, assess what’s working before making big changes. Perhaps your team is great at quickly responding to clients but has trouble completing client requests because they’re trying to keep track of tasks and communication via emails, sticky notes or spreadsheets.

From request intake to resolution, consistency is key.

An across-the-board solution is to use request management and ticketing software. These platforms set up your team for success by standardizing how you prioritize requests and assign ad-hoc work. The best options feature customizable workflows to help you convert requests into sales, tickets, projects or tasks.

When you use software that’s made to track, funnel and bill for client requests, you’ll feel less on edge about managing the unexpected.

3. Manage Intake Via a Client Portal

Ad-hoc requests come with risks — especially when there are many. Large requests can be quite time-consuming, but even small work requests can increase your team’s workload and pull their attention from current projects.

By streamlining how you receive ad-hoc requests, you can monitor how many each client submits and mitigate their impact.

A client portal automatically pushes requests to a shared inbox where they can be filtered to the correct person for immediate action. This also reduces the number of scattered emails and calls your team receives. Some portals even offer real-time status updates on tickets so that clients can see when you’ve viewed and escalated their requests. You’ll spend a lot less time seeking status internally and sharing updates externally.

Decrease the administrative effort of collecting and triaging requests — and its negative effect on your team’s bandwidth — by setting up a submission method that’s easy for your clients to access and efficient for your team to respond to.

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4. Turn Requests Into Auto-Assigned Tasks


Once you receive a request via your client portal, be sure your team can easily:

  1. Determine the priority of the request
  2. Attach the request to a client record and/or existing project
  3. Quickly create and assign tickets, sales or projects and the associated tasks
  4. Track billable time spent on ad-hoc work and move it to the invoicing stage

The ultimate time-saving hack is to predefine these steps and set them up as rules or automation triggers using as few apps and integrations as possible. Project management software that features request management can keep your team agile and insulated from the potential stress caused by last-minute requests.

Automating task assignments can further expedite your request resolution process, keeping both ongoing and ad-hoc projects on track and removing the need for manual intervention.

5. Establish Visibility To Streamline Communication

One reason why client-based teams struggle with ad-hoc requests is that they try to manage them via endless email chains. Think about how much time your team has wasted scrolling through a long thread to find a single link or piece of information related to a client’s request.

All communication that concerns a single request should be centralized so that no matter who’s working on it, they have access to the same information. It’s even better if each activity, email or internal note related to a request is automatically added to an easy-to-navigate stream.

Visibility over real-time communication makes it easier to predict and address roadblocks and protect your team’s time.

6. Allocate the Right Resources 

If every team member were to stop what they were doing to handle ad-hoc requests, they’d probably be quite inefficient. That’s why you need a plan for proper resource allocation.

Wisely distributing work means first knowing how your current project requirements align with each person’s skills and availability. From there, you can choose your approach to resource management for ad-hoc projects and tasks.

Here are a few ways to assign unplanned work:

  • Select one or two people who have broad experience or tenure and can make quick decisions about incoming requests.
  • Have each team member allocate a few hours per week to handle work from ad-hoc requests.
  • Give everyone access to a request inbox, but allow automated workflows and notifications to help the team prioritize tasks.

It’s possible to significantly improve team productivity when you make deliberate decisions about applying your team’s time and talent to ad-hoc tasks.

7. Track Ad-Hoc Projects Carefully

Ad-hoc requests don’t end once you’ve responded to them and billed for the work your team has done. You still need to keep track of the average time and money you’re spending on these requests.

Ideally, you’ll know the answers to questions like:

  • How many hours are team members spending to respond to ad-hoc requests?
  • How much unplanned time do we invest to manage ad-hoc projects and tasks?
  • Are these requests delaying ongoing projects?
  • What impact do ad-hoc requests have on project budgets?

Regularly exploring these questions can help you establish processes for everything from sales to project planning to client service.

Thanks to valuable metrics about ad-hoc requests, you may find you’re better able to justify to stakeholders the decision to hire a full-time support team member, adjust your pricing model or change the scope of your standard projects.

READ NEXT: How To Train Your Employees for Better Client Service

Outcomes of a Strategic Approach to Client Requests


Ad-hoc requests, while inevitable, should not be the norm. By implementing strategic initiatives to effectively manage these requests, you can turn potential disruptions into opportunities for stronger client connections and an increase in lifetime value.

Here are four advantages you can look forward to once you’re following the ad-hoc request management best practices shared above.

The ability to maintain project management methodologies

One of the foremost reasons to get serious about how you manage ad-hoc requests is that your project team can stay on track with their preferred methodology. Chances are, you don’t aim to follow an ad-hoc project management style. If you’ve been using a linear, predictable approach to project management, you’ll notice how much easier it is to stick to timelines and limit scope creep when your processes are consistent — even when they apply to unpredictable work.

A chance to uncover vulnerabilities

Strategically managing ad-hoc requests also provides a valuable opportunity to identify bottlenecks and times when your team is most prone to errors or delays. Just by monitoring how often and how quickly your team responds to requests, you can expedite decision-making and devise solutions for the most challenging and time-consuming requests.

Greater profitability from more efficient resolution

Efficiently handling unexpected requests minimizes non-billable hours and redirects your team to in-scope, billable work. You might even find that you haven’t been billing clients for all of the time your team spends on requests. These seemingly small changes automatically up your revenue-generating potential, contributing to bigger margins per project and per client.

Increased client satisfaction

Ultimately, your clients are the people who benefit most from your well-executed ad-hoc request management. As you improve teamwork and respond over and over again with timely answers and high-quality service, they become more satisfied with your business. Higher satisfaction leads to more testimonials, referrals and recurring revenue.

Transition to an Integrated Request Inbox

Of all the request management best practices, using a client work management platform with a client portal, a shared inbox and ticketing is the most powerful. The right platform can help you execute all seven of the tips we’ve shared.

See how much less stressful ad-hoc requests could be for your team when you centralize them in one inbox, allow your team to respond collaboratively and auto-convert them into sales, tickets and projects as needed. Explore these features and more by booking a demo of Accelo.


About the Author


Chelsea Williams is Senior Copywriter at Accelo, where she shares unique insights with service professionals and tells user stories via blogs, eBooks, industry reports and more. She has over 15 years of B2B and B2C writing experience — primarily in tech, sales, education and healthcare. Chelsea is an AWAI-certified Master Copywriter trained in brand storytelling and microcopy.

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